Blogging Friend, Jason Clark put me on to a publication that sounds both fascinating and useful - God's EPIC Adventure, published in 2007 and written by Winn Griffin. Griffin is a member of Society of Biblical Literature, the Society for Pentecostal Studies, and the Society of Vineyard Scholars. In writing the book he draws (with his own variation) on NT. Wright’s very helpful schema - the Bible as an unfolding drama / play comprising “Five Acts”. I first came across this schema in reading Wright’s essay: How Can the Bible Be Authoritative? Originally published in the journal in Vox Evangelica, 1991.
Wright’s five-act schema is: (1) Creation; (2) Fall; (3) Israel; (4) Jesus; and (5) The New Testament and on up to now (which of course requires faithful improvisation.
Others have used this same schema since. Some have helpfully modified it. For example, Kevin J. Vanhoozer sees “The Fall” not as its own act, but as the conflict in the first act, creation. He prefers to see each of the five acts of the theodrama as: (1) creation, (2) election of Israel, (3) Christ, (4) Pentecost and the church, and (5) consummation. And, unlike Wright, the church does not have to work out the ending so much as to live in its light.
Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen largely use Wright’s schema in their very accessible book The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story.
While Colin Greene, author of Metavista: Bible, Church and Mission in an Age of Imagination (co-written with Martin Robinson) “views the biblical story as an open- ended narrative that contains four fundamental stories all of which are re-appropriated and re-configured in the others. So for instance the creation and exodus traditions are picked up and re-configured by second Isaiah as the writer seeks to come to terms with the traumatic reality of exile. The Jesus story picks up both the creation and Israel stories and reconfigures these traditions in terms of Jesus’ preaching about the coming Kingdom of God. Furthermore none of these stories has reached historical resolution – the creation story is still ongoing as is the Israel and Jesus stories – Jesus has not completed his mission of bringing salvation to the world through the Holy Spirit – so that entails that people can enter the biblical story at any juncture.” (See here in my interview with Greene).
The word "EPIC" in the book title is an acronym meaning: (1) Experiential, (2) Participatory, (3) Image-Rich, and (4) Connected. I first came across the acronym by way of Leonard Sweet. He used it in one of his early books (published in 2000) – “…Creating an EPIC church for EPIC Times…”
Anyway, aside aside, it’s back to Winn Griffin’s book God's EPIC Adventure (ISBN 0979907608
Format: Paperback, 412 Pages).
PDF of opening pages here.
Griffin’s schema is six-fold: (1) Creation, (2) Chaos, (3) Covenant, (4) Christ, (5) Church, and (6) Consummation.
The Foreword is by Leonard Sweet “[This] book is an invitation to the party of your life.” While the Afterword is by Brian McLaren “…a solid and inspiring presentation of the Biblical storyline.”
“You sit down to read the text of Scripture. When you look at it on the page, it looks like some kind of a strange technical manual with all those large and small numbers that break up the text. Because Scripture is presented this way, readers have learned to read and memorize those small fragments and that has led to fragmented lives amongst the flock of the followers of Jesus. We have become versified mutts, suffering from what Griffin calls versitis. What is the antidote to this serious, potentially deadly problem? Learning to Read and Live in God’s Story.
God’s EPIC Adventure provides the reader with a basic background of how we find ourselves in our present position of reading Scripture in such a fragmentized way. In God’s EPIC Adventure, Griffin uses Bishop Tom Wright’s five-act-play model as a way of presenting Scripture as a full-length Story in order to assist the reader in a better reading experience of Scripture’s text. Thinking and reading Scripture as Story can result in a follower of Jesus learning the art of living in the Story that Scripture presents, rather than applying fragmented parts of it and becoming a theological quilt. Griffin presents the gluing themes of Covenant in the Old Testament and Kingdom of God in the New Testament as two ways of saying the same thing, namely that God has invaded this present evil age with his rule.
In the Prologue, he helps the reader discover how we ended up in this theological fix of reading Scripture in such a fragmented way. Then, he presents the Story in a chronological storyline from Genesis to Revelation. In the last section of this book, he presents a way of thinking about how we as actors in God’s Story can use our imagination and improvise our part in God’s EPIC Adventure. Griffin keys God’s EPIC Adventure to the New Bible Dictionary and The Books of The Bible so that the reader can get more information about the text and can read the text without all the human additives that have been placed in the text that hinder its reading.”
I’m hoping that it will be a really stimulating read, a counterbalance to the fragmented way we so often read the Bible, an argument against reading the Bible as a series of proof-texts, and an encouragement to read it is an epic unfolding drama within which we find ourselves narrated. Most importantly I’m hoping it will help us actually read ourselves into and out of this all too human theo-drama.